Picture Overload

My sister Keri and her one-year-old baby Leah are in town for the week.  They spent the weekend with us, and we enjoyed having them here so much!  I already shared some pics, but obviously I have more.  🙂

The beach!

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Chillin’ with Uncle Matt:

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Swimming at Papa’s:

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Already into baby dolls:

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And my little sister Anna turned 7 last week!  I can’t believe she is so old.  She is really looking and acting so much older these days.  Matt and I stopped by Anna’s birthday party at the bowling alley last weekend and had a blast with Anna and her little girlfriends – the theme was Girls Rock!  Happy Birthday, Anna!

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Babies babies babies! (not mine)

Been busy lately, mostly being entertained by these cuties:

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A good laugh (and also sad):

And, Matt would like me to show the world our new backyard!!!  The sod is done, and he is so excited about it.  Sometimes he just stands and stares at it.  🙂
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Trying new things

My alone time is very precious to me and important for my sanity.  I realize that in the coming years my “me” time will become much less frequent as we start a family.  Lately I have been trying to make the most of my days off by trying out some new things, mostly stuff I have secretly always wanted to do but never made time for.  It has made my alone time extra enjoyable.

A couple weeks ago I planted some herbs.  I have always wanted to grow my own herbs, but I guess I’ve just always been too lazy.  It’s really not that hard and takes very little maintenance, so I just did it.  I bought my planting supplies at Wally-world.

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I stuck to three herbs: cilantro, basil, and oregano.  I love the flavors and actually use all three of these in my cooking regularly, so it will be a nice change to have the real stuff and not use the dried herbs or pay a ton of money for the store-bought fresh stuff.

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I read some stuff online and decided to just plant all three types of seeds in one plant pot.  It literally took me 5 minutes.

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I’ve been keeping the herbs watered, and the seeds are starting to sprout now.  I’ll keep you updated as they grow and get ready for use!

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My other recent project was… to make homemade strawberry jam!!  I have always always always wanted to learn how to preserve food and make homemade jams.  I wish I had been able to learn from one of my grandmas, but sadly I missed that chance.  So, I decided to figure it out myself.  It is actually pretty easy once you have the right supplies and thorough instructions.

I found a very thorough two-part blog post on making strawberry jam on The Pioneer Woman’s site.  Then, I went to the store (Wally-world again) and bought the supplies.  It was a little bit of an investment, probably about $50 total including the ingredients.  Strawberries are really cheap now, so I got a 1/2 flat for $5, which was awesome.  The canning pot and other supplies can be used over and over, though, so I plan to get my money’s worth by trying out different recipes.  I also spent an extra $5 for the Ball book of preserving recipes.  I would definitely recommend this book.  I ended up using the book’s step-by-step directions and a recipe from the book.

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Mmmm mashed up berries…

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Heating up the jars…

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Cooking the jam…

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Adding seven (yes, SEVEN) cups of sugar…

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Into the jars…

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And, finally, nine beautiful jars of jam!!

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Of course, I had to make them cute.  🙂

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It is so good!!  At first I thought maybe I just liked it because I made it, but Matt really loves it, too.  I have been eating it on sandwiches and toast and even in my oatmeal.

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(Here it is on some store-bought naan, which is really not impressive.  I am picky about naan because I’ve had the gooood stuff in India before.  I think I am going to try to make my own naan soon.)

If you’ve never tried canning before, I would suggest you give it a whirl.  It is very relaxing.  🙂

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Grace is here!!

I am an aunt again!!  Eleven times and counting!  It never gets old.  After a long and complicated labor, Grace Elizabeth was born on Wednesday night, April 14th, at 6:55 pm!  Isn’t she precious!?

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I am so proud of my sister Shelly and her husband Jon.  They are troopers.  This was supposed to be a home birth, but God had other plans.  Shelly spent several days in labor with trouble progressing.  They eventually went ahead and did a Cesarean and discovered that Grace’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her little body and around her neck.  God always knows the whole story and works everything for our best.  🙂

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Please pray for the family’s adjustment and especially for Shelly’s recovery.  She is still having very bad gas pain from the air that got in during surgery, and she also has very swollen legs and feet because of all the fluids during surgery and the two days prior. 

I made the two-hour drive up twice during the labor, but due to work I ended up missing Grace’s birth.  I went up for the day today and finally got to hold that precious baby!

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Big siblings Lydia and Micah came to visit their new baby sister, too.  They are so adorable and sweet with her!  Nate didn’t come today since he is such a little busybody (he’s 2).

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Our dad (Papa) was nearby for work and stopped in for a visit, too!

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Grace was very sleepy all day today.  She looks so much like Lydia and makes the funniest faces both asleep and awake.  Here is a funny video we made while trying to wake her up to nurse:

Welcome to the world, Grace!  We love you!  🙂

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The great outdoors

It’s been a while since I’ve done a real post… sorry about that!  We’ve been busy bees!

We have been trying to get outside and enjoy the weather as much as possible.  A couple weekends ago we did some minor landscaping just to add some color and try and brighten up the house.  Matt planted some pretty annuals in the beds out front.  Here he is in action (he thinks he looks like a goober):

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And the final product:

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It is simple but looks nice with the new mulch and the bits of color.  The sun and temps have been fierce lately, so we have been watering the flowers a little each day to keep them pretty.  The next project is to sod the backyard.  Matt’s little makeshift sod plugs from last fall did not really take, and the weeds are out of control.  Now that it’s the season for mowing our lawn (aka weeds) again, we are ready to get the real thing.  Matt has been pricing different places, and a guy from one company came out today to check out the yard and give us an estimate.  I think we have decided to go ahead and pay for installation so we can just get it done fast and correctly. 

I just love the colors and liveliness of spring!  I have been trying to bring some of that inside in small ways.  Check out this adorable kitchen towel I recently found at Kohl’s.  I love it.

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Last Friday I had a class for work over in St. Pete, so Matt came over and we hung out with his parents that evening.  We went to dinner at a nice seafood place near the water and downtown St. Pete.  We sat outside to eat, and it was so nice.

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And on Saturday we went to the beach!!!  For real this time!  I went with a coworker last week for pedicures and a movie (I loved The Last Song!), so at the beach I got to show off my lovely bright pink toes.

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It was such a perfect beach day!  The sun was bright and hot, but it wasn’t so humid that we were sweating buckets.  The water was still a little cold, but there were still a ton of people playing in it so I guess it is warming up to its normal swimmable temperature.  We laid out and read for a couple hours, then walked down the street for a nice lunch on the beach, and finished it off with another hour of laying out.  Perfect!

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I want to give a shout-out to my lovely friend Rachel who just landed a job at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach!  That place is fancy schmancy and so pretty!  Congrats, Rachel!  Who wouldn’t want to work here:

I am off for the next couple of days and have some fun things planned.  Tomorrow I am going to buy a bunch of fresh (cheap!) strawberries and try my hand at making homemade jam!  I bought the canning supplies today and am so excited.  If it turns out good I should have a bunch to give away, so place your orders!

Edited to add:

I forgot to talk about Easter!!!  I think Easter is my favorite holiday.  Celebrating Jesus dying and rising again to save me – yes!  And while there are a lot of secular traditions associated with it, it is still very easy to stay on track and celebrate the real meaning.  We should be celebrating “Easter” in our hearts every day.  Matt and I spent the day with family.  We were up early and over in St. Pete for the 9 a.m. service at his parents’ church (where we were married), then had Easter lunch and goodies at their house.  Twas delish!  We headed back home early afternoon, then went over to my dad’s house for a bit of hanging out, Wii playing (addicted to Mario Bros.), and dinner at Chili’s.  Good day and good God!

Easter (April 4th) was also my sister Marissa’s birthday!!  Happy Birthday, Riss!!  I love you so very much.  🙂

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Wordless Wednesday

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5K race recap

Well, the race was a success and lots of fun was had.  It was a beautiful and warm day, and we really enjoyed hanging out in St. Pete near the water.  However, I did not PR.  😦 

Notice my number – 4 and 21 are “my” numbers, and I tend to put 421 on my email addresses, etc.  🙂

I didn’t think I cared much about a PR until it didn’t happen, then I was mad at myself for not trying harder.  My time was 30:37, which is 42 seconds slower than my last 5K.  I guess now I know that I do care more than I thought and will be training harder despite everyday hindrances from now on.  The race was mostly on a race track that is being used for a Honda Grand Prix event this weekend.  There were a couple of turns where I could see the runners ahead of me, so I had fun yelling out and cheering Matt on as we passed.

Matt did awesome!  He pushed hard and ran a 29:32!  I am so proud!  We said our goodbyes at the start line because I did not want to get in his way.  He was determined. 

You see, Matt and I handle stress/anxiety/anticipation very differently.  I stay very calm on the exterior and actually end up being silly and very light-hearted before a race.  Usually the point at which I admit my anxiety is when I suddenly feel the urge (real or not) to pee just before the start.  Matt, however, gets super focused and has a hard time with my silliness.  He just wants to focus on his goal and pump himself up.  If I tell him to “calm down” he gets annoyed. 

I wish I had stayed with Matt and pushed myself because I know I could have kept up, but at the time I just wanted to get away from his high-strung emotions.  Besides, I think he is enjoying the fact that he was faster than I was, and I am okay with that.

Since the race benefitted the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and other groups that support wounded veterans, there were a lot of amputees and other challenged athletes at the race.  I think Matt really enjoyed being around other amputees, and we even talked with a couple.  Matt actually went up to one guy that had almost the exact same length stump and asked him about his running leg.  Matt asked him, “How is it running with one of those?” and the guy pointed to Matt’s prosthetic and said, “Way better than that!”  They talked for a while, and the guy gave Matt some pointers on the prosthetic and technology, etc.  Matt has had issues this past year with trying out new leg stuff, so I think he felt really encouraged talking to this guy.  The CAF raises funds to help challenged athletes stay active and compete, so they help people like Matt (who are not veterans and thus do not have the hook-up with prosthetic stuff) to be able to afford the things they need to overcome their disabilities.  Matt has now met several people from CAF and is going to pursue further involvement with the organization.  I am all for it!  I’m so glad he is getting excited about running, too.

After the race we went to Chipotle for dinner!!  I have been wanting Chipotle for about a year, but we do not have one close to us and every time we are near one and I mention it Matt whines that he’s not in the mood.  I took a pic of my yummy ginormous burrito (which I are half of):

Aaaand, now it’s past midnight.  Oops.  Gotta rest up for a very busy day tomorrow!

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